Have you ever had an experience that scared the living daylights out of you but that didn't fully affect you until much later? Perhaps it's quite normal.
Nearly a week ago while driving along a busy freeway at commute time, with semis and cars going 60 mph or more, I came way too close for comfort to being in a terrible accident. An SUV in the far left lane of three lanes of traffic suddenly veered 90 degrees across all lanes headed, full speed, toward me in the far right lane. I could see my trajectory, if I continued full speed, would bring him right about to my driver's side door. As soon as I saw him head toward me, I slammed on my brakes so hard that I could smell rubber on the road. I still thought he'd hit me but more on the front end of the car. Amazingly, he flew right by the front of my car, missing it by what must have been three or four inches as he flew, full speed, right off the road and into a field of trees beyond.
I was shaking like a leaf and slowly resumed my drive, exiting off the highway and to city streets just a few feet ahead, where I could calm down. I saw other cars and semis behind me stopping, so I knew someone would call police and ambulance. It took me a long time to settle down. But it wasn't until that night when I awoke after a couple hours of sleep that I began thinking of all the "What ifs" of that event. I'm amazed no one rear-ended me when I stopped so suddenly, especially with all the semis and cars behind me. I'm amazed the car didn't hit someone in the middle lane, causing a multi-car pile-up. And I still can't believe the SUV didn't even touch my car at all. I could have been killed, I know that. I could have been hospitalized with severe injuries. I could have been shoved off the road as the SUV flew off—and rolled over several times. So many different scenarios and very real possibilities have run through my mind ever since.
It's tough to forget this scene, and it comes to mind, uninvited, daily, with possibilities playing out again and again. One night I even awoke screaming, scaring the daylights out of my fiancé. I'm trying to let it all go but that doesn't seem easy.
One thing I don't want to lose, however, is that deep sense of gratitude I feel for being alive. At the same time, my heart hurts for whoever was in the SUV; and I can't seem to learn anything about what happened, but I know it could not have been good. Life: It's always good and bad all mixed together—gratitude for some things and sorrow for others.